The World Mountain and Trail Running Championships kicked off Wednesday in Austria with the men’s and women’s uphill, or vertical, mountain race. The course this year took the runners up 1,020 meters (3,346 feet), over a 7.1 kilometers (4.4 miles) route that left the Stubai Valley and climbed steeply up to the Elfer Hut. With the best mountain runners in the world on the start line, we were treated to absolutely outstanding performances. When the gun went off the field exploded off the line quickly gobbling up the initial flat kilometer that brought the runners from town to the trails. Going out a little hard proved valuable as the field was forced into a single file line as they funneled through a gate and onto the single track – and with the men’s race going first I’m wondering if the women’s field took any of those initial tactics to heart.
In the men’s race Kenya’s Patrick Kipngeno not only repeated as World Champion in the vertical mountain race but he did so in commanding fashion finishing in 40:18 besting the field by over a 90-second margin. Finhing in a tighter battle for the top five were Ugandan Levi Kiprotich in second for 41:51, Kenyan Josphat Kiprotich in 42:04 for third, Ugandan Eliud Cherop in 42:16 for fourth, and American Joe Gray in 42:32 for fifth. In the team competition Kenya handedly won with 11 points (1st, 3rd, and 7th). Behind them on the team podium was Uganda in second (22 points) and Switzerland in third (45 points). As an aside, we have to imagine that the second-place team medal tasted pretty good to Uganda after they tragically missed the start of the vertical race last year at the championships in Thailand due to a transit issue. The US team behind Joe Gray were Dan Curts (41st), Liam Meirow (52nd), and Morgan Elliot ( 72nd). You can find complete results here.
After finishing second in the 2022 WMTRC Vertical Mountain race Austria’s Andrea Mayr was on cloud nine after winning her 7th world title in the uphill-only mountain competition. The 43-year-old won her first world title 17 years ago and put on a show today winning in 48:14, 37 seconds clear of 2nd place. Carrying the flag for Kenya today was Philaries Jeruto Kisang who made a late move to bridge to Andrea before ultimately finishing 2nd position in a time of 48:51. In third place, the 2019 World Champion, was American Grayson Murphy in a time of 49:22. An additional 30-seconds back and just off the podium were Laura Hottenrott of Germany and Valentine Jepkoeach Rutto of Kenya who helped to push the pace early on in the race. In the team competition, just like in the men’s race, Kenya won with 17 points putting three runners in the top ten. Behind them on the team podium was Germany with 33 points and the United Kingdom with 51 points. The US women finished in fifth position with 54 points helped by Allie McLaughlin in 13th and Rachel Tomajczyk in 38th. You can find complete results here.
Up next, tomorrow Thursday, June 8th will be the 45-kilometer Short Trail race. Have you placed your Freetrail Fantasy picks yet? Do so here! Want to follow along live? The race will be live-streamed on the race website, but if you want to jump in the live chat hop on over to the stream on Youtube.